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5 ways media agencies can get more from their digital publisher

Triana Jarman

“Now that I can finally understand you, I'm less impressed with what you have to say."

– Don Draper, Mad Men

We hope you don’t feel like uttering Don’s infamous line after a meeting with your digital publisher, but we know sometimes there can be a disconnect between what you and your client needs and what the publisher is coming back to you with. Why is that? Is it a lack of knowledge or creativity on the publisher’s part? Is it a rushed or poor brief from the client in the first place? Is it just a lack of time for everyone concerned? In our experience, it can be all those things and more. We work with hundreds of agencies and clients across our portfolio of B2B titles, so we see lots of different ways of working, and inevitably lots of challenges.

Don’t get us wrong, this is not a post designed to ‘bash’ any one particular party in the process. Instead, we have been looking at ways to just improve it for everyone – it’s a partnership after all. We are here to ensure you (we) deliver target smashing and creative campaigns that compel your client’s target audience into action. And with ‘adblockalypse’ coming to the internet near you right now (according to some), there’s even more reason for agencies, publishers and clients to come together more to find solutions that engage what the IAB’s CEO Randall Rothenberg calls, ‘liquid audiences’.

The IAB recently revealed the results of research that concluded 73% of marketers & media agency executives believe user experience in digital marketing needs improvement:

“It is imperative that ad creatives, brand marketers, publishers, and technologists realize that they must join forces to engage consumers in digital in new ways.”

Randall Rothenberg, President and CEO, IAB

So how exactly do we join forces to create better outcomes for everyone?

Here’s our sure-fire list of ideas to try, qualities you should expect and seek out from your publisher, and ways to add value to your ongoing partnership. All in the name of delivering better results for your client and an improved experience for their audience.

1. Sharing is caring (and ultimately revealing)

Yes, of course, impressions are important to you and your client, and we’ll deliver them. It’s a given. No need to spend too much time on it, to be honest. Instead let’s look, together, in partnership, at the ways in which we can add value beyond your standard ads.

Let us introduce you to our editorial team for the community or audience you want to engage. They are the eyes and ears of the community and know instinctively what turns the audience on or off.  

We happily organise ‘share’ days for our agency clients, sessions where we look at the needs, traits and behaviours of your target audience. What messaging resonates with them, what gets them to take action or conversely keeps them passive, where are they and when (digitally and literally), how are they accessing your client’s products or services. These are all stonkingly good questions you could be asking your publisher’s editorial team. The more detailed a picture we can help you build, the more insight and creativity we can collectively deliver to your client.

2. The best time to plan is when you DON’T have a live brief

Now we know that you’ll often get the panicked call from the client literally at the eleventh hour demanding a brand new campaign to start in the next 24 hours. We’ve all been there. A lot. So we know you’re flat out, all of the time. But, a little forward planning, say at the start of your relationship with a new client, can help a publisher bring so much more value to the table, shining the spotlight on you and your team’s creativity in your client’s eyes.

We can meet your client too and really get to the nub of what will work best for their audience. It’s a slab of time that you are probably thinking you don’t ever have, but it pays huge dividends, so if nothing else, keep it as an ace up your sleeve for when you get one of those bigger, juicier clients onboard.

3. Tell us the client’s business problem or challenge

If your brief to us, the publisher, doesn’t tell us what your client’s business challenge is, we can’t deliver our best work for you. And you can’t deliver your best work to your client as a result. That’s terrible. No one wants that. The best briefs give us a very clear understanding of the issue or opportunity the client wants to solve or maximise. That way we can give you extra insight and ensure your campaign gets even bigger and better CTRs, delivering greater ROI for your client’s budget. When we are all working beyond the banner; content marketing, video, rich media, sponsorship, thought leadership pieces etc., the opportunities for successful stand out campaigns become so much greater.

4. Embrace the partnership, not just the relationship

Recognise this subtle difference, act on it and everyone’s a winner. Our job is to give you the tools and insights to deliver your best, most creative, campaign objective busting work to your client. The best publishers will challenge you when they think what you’re suggesting could be so much more, they’ll add insight from their audience that you weren’t aware of, they’ll prod and push themselves, and you, to find that extra layer of spark. It’s a two-way thing, where both parties have an honest and open conversation to make sure that ultimately your client is the winner. And of course, the end result of that is you are the winner in your client’s eyes too.

5. Reach, reach and reach

Yep, we know. Reach is critical to our business model too so we really do understand that you need to be able to demonstrate to a client that your publisher has access to, and influence within, the audience they are after. Be absolutely confident your publisher can demonstrate clearly where this magical audience is and what it’s made up of. We mean detailed personas and profiles, and not just some vague ‘we’ve got access to 500k email addresses’ kind of statement. Premium publishers know their audience, they understand ad placements inside out, they’re up on the latest and greatest formats including, but not restricted to, mobile, video and rich media. We know we need to demonstrate there’s enough eyeballs in our community to secure your client’s budget. Challenge your publisher to prove it!

And finally, let’s all consider that we aren’t really in the business of either B2B or B2C marketing. Our colleague Dan Long recently blogged about the idea of a H2H (Human2Human) approach instead. As Dan so rightly says;

“..the extent to which B2B brands have to educate their target audiences is infinitely more complex than running a branding campaign for a (B2C) product that everyone already understands and uses…Forrester research shows that 90% of a buyer’s decision making journey may be complete before even speaking to a sales person, which reflects how important it is for any marketing activity to be not just informative, but thought-leading.”

And at the end of the day, isn’t that what we all want to achieve? So come on, challenge us, or your current digital publisher, to deliver more than just those standard impressions. We are in this together!